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METALS-Copper dips as rising inventories pressure prices

HANOI, March 17 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Wednesday after inventories in warehouses tracked by the London Metal Exchange rose to their highest in more than two months.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange dipped 0.1% to $8,953 a tonne by 0235 GMT, while the most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell 1.5% to 66,380 yuan ($10,208.22) a tonne.

LME copper inventories MCUSTX-TOTAL jumped 12% to 103,900 tonnes in one session, their highest since Jan. 8 , while stockpiles in ShFE warehouses CU-STX-SGH were last at 171,794 tonnes, a level unseen since September.

Meanwhile, Chilean miner Antofagasta expects to reach a pay deal with its workers this month, as wage talks at its Los Pelambres mine extended into next week in an effort to avoid a strike.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Yangshan copper premium SMM-CUYP-CN fell to $67 a tonne, its lowest since Jan. 13, indicating weakening demand for imported copper into China.

* Top copper producer Codelco received approval from the regional environmental regulator to extend the life of its Radomiro Tomic mine in Chile until 2030.

* LME aluminium fell 0.3% to $2,195.50 a tonne, nickel declined 0.6% to $16,050 a tonne and zinc decreased 0.4% to $2,799 a tonne.

* ShFE aluminium shed 1.2% to 17,565 yuan a tonne, nickel was down 0.6% to 120,630 yuan a tonne and zinc dropped 1.3% to 21,570 yuan a tonne.

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MARKETS NEWS

* Asian stocks were set to open mostly lower following a sell-off in U.S. stocks, as investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s meeting and whether the central bank will maintain near-zero interest rates.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

1000 EU HICP Final MM, YY Feb

1230 US Housing Starts Number Feb

1800 US Federal Open Market Committee announces

its decision on interest rates

$1 = 6.5026 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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